By Terrence Littlejohn
February is Black History Month, prior to the story, Haskell had not set up anything to celebrate but currently two events are being planned. We asked students about their cultural heritage of being both African American and Native American.
1. As a Native American that is also of African descent do you feel racial stereotypes at Haskell?
2. Do you feel that there is more pressure on you being both African American/Native American than that of a Native American mixed with another race?
3. Which race do you relate more to?
Shanice Chatlin, Haskell Sophomore, San Carlos Apache responses:
1. Yes, because weather some know it or not they tend to make racial comments concerning black people. I’ve encountered racism here on campus being half black.
2. Yes, because Native American and African Americans are both minorities and both dark skinned. Going in public and being dark skinned people assume many different things.
3. I relate more to my Native American side. Only because all my life I’ve only knew my Native side.
Aiyana Jack, Haskell Junior, Yankton Sioux & Standing Rock Sioux
1. Yes, because some people look at you here at Haskell as being only a little bit of Native American or not enough.
2. Yes, because we come from two oppressed cultures.
3. I think this is different for everyone. I grew up in a Native household and I didn’t know much about my African American side, but being from a reservation and being one of the only multiracial children on the reservation I feel like I could relate more to my African American side.
Emalyne King, Haskell Sophomore, Oklahoma Choctaw
1. No, but I feel like that could do with the people I surrounded myself with and the time that I got here. When I arrived last Spring, it was a bunch of girls pretty much locked in Pokie (Pocahontas Hall) because of an incoming ice storm, so all of us were new and in the same situation of not knowing anything, so we all got along. Since I’m always with my friends I haven’t given myself a chance to experience biases on campus.
2. I feel that as both Native and African American there is more pressure to not be a stereotype and show people that I can be successful and that my nationality does not define me.
3. I can’t say I relate more to either side. Once I’m outside of my group of friends and family people assume I’m black just from looking at me and when I speak ask why I don’t sound black. Or if I say I’m native, people are shocked that natives still exist and then wonder if I live in a teepee.
Baron Hoy, Haskell Senior, Mvskoke
1. The feeling is a bit different than the rest of the world but there are similarities. Prejudices here exist. Unsaid prejudices, practices of exclusion and ignorance of the black/Native students is prevalent here. It’s similar in a sense of superiority as the rest of the world. It’s similar in that there is division. It’s weird that it’s coming from your own, indigenous people but they also seem to benefit from African American culture through music, art, fashion, sport and lingo.
2. Most definitely, yes. Unlike other people we are a double minority. Being Black is objectified, and labeled a certain way. It’s unsettling because Native Americans have that syndrome where they love their oppressors but hate their oppressors as well. Minority people including African Americans look up to their oppressors and seek their validation, services, products instead of building economies of our own and creating our own value. That self-perpetuating system is what keeps us under bondage and oppressed. Our Ancestors would be ashamed of the division and corruption. As a people we have ceased looking out for the people we are looking out for ourselves. To our ancestors that alone would make us the white man. Not by race but by action. If it swims does it make it a fish? Most likely yes. “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”-Malcolm X
3. Both, I was raised as both. There wasn’t a “Coming to Native America”, realization for me. As many would assume. I was raise both a black individual and native. I grew up I identify as both because it is my right to. I am Mvskoke, I am Creek fully as I am African (As was told to me by a respected elder in 2015 on my tribal grounds.) Haskell has been in my vocabulary since I was very young. My mother went to Haskell, and helped Haskell transitions to a university from a Junior college as student senate president. So my involvement is solidified.